London, Jul 16 (PTI) UK health officials said the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues its rise in the UK with a further 36,800 cases logged on Friday, which marks a 17 per cent increase over the previous week.
Public Health England (PHE) said that while the infections continue to be high and rising, there has not been a corresponding rise in the number of hospitalisations with COVID-19, indicating that the vaccinations are effective against the highly transmissible variant first identified in India.
Of the 36,800 cases of Delta B1.617.2 variant over the past week, 45 are from the Delta AY.1 sub lineage with the mutation K417N, which is feared to be more vaccine resistant – a proportion that has remained consistent over the past few weeks.
“Case rates are still high and rising, but it is encouraging that the increase in cases still does not appear to be associated with a similar increase in hospitalisations and deaths. This is testament to the continued success of the vaccination programme in reducing the incidence of severe disease,” said Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency.
“The best way to keep yourself and those around you safe is to get both doses of the vaccine as soon as you are eligible. However, while vaccines offer excellent protection, they do not completely eliminate risk,” she said.
“As we approach the end of restrictions, it is as important as ever that we continue to exercise caution. Take your free twice-weekly rapid tests and if you have symptoms, you should book a PCR test immediately and stay at home until you receive your result,” she added.
The latest statistics come as a separate study revealed on Thursday that almost 100 per cent of people tested positive for antibodies 14 or more days after their second COVID-19 vaccine dose – of either Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, being administered in India as Covishield.
Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI said their latest antibody surveillance report highlights the importance of getting both doses for the best possible protection against coronavirus as lockdown restrictions are eased from next Monday.
Over 90 per cent of people aged over 65 tested positive for antibodies, rising to 95 per cent in those aged over 75 with 36 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds testing positive.
At the time of the report, a quarter of respondents aged 18 to 24 said they had received one or two jabs compared to 99 per cent of those aged over 75.
Following one dose of either vaccine, the proportion of people testing positive for antibodies peaked at 4 to 5 weeks after the first dose and then started to decline before rising substantially in those who had a second dose.
“Every vaccine is another brick in our wall of protection and I’m incredibly pleased that the latest data from REACT [Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission] shows almost 100 per cent of people tested positive for antibodies after their second dose of the vaccine,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “Our vaccination programme is working and is severely weakening the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.
“As we lift restrictions next week, I urge anyone who has yet to be vaccinated to get both jabs to protect yourselves and your loved ones. Vaccines are safe and have so far prevented around 8 million infections, over 46,000 hospitalisations and around 30,000 deaths.” The UK government says it is on track to offer every adult a first dose of the vaccine by Monday, when England's legal lockdown restrictions are set to end, and has also given two doses to two-thirds of all adults. PTI AK RUP RUP RUP